Rookie Commuter: Snot, Rain, and Naps

As a break from addressing all the essentials for commuting, I thought I’d give an update on my experience thus far cruising around Boulder on nothing but my own thigh power.

Biking is more fun when it’s a choice; that’s what I’ve taken away from my first month or so with only two wheels instead of four. When I had a car, any bike ride was me roughing it — a fun adventure. It’s raining? And I’m biking? No matter, because if I really wanted to, the option to drive was always there.

Now, without a backup plan, biking has lost its excitement. When it’s raining out, I’m not being tough by pushing through the weather. Rather, I’m just a broke kid, forced to deal with water thrown up my back and into my face by my wheels, waves of dirty puddle water dripping off every piece of me as car after car douses me while flying past; all because a comfortable way home costs money.

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Prepared, or so I thought, for the pouring rain. How bad could it be? Numb hands and toes would soon answer that question.

My gung-ho attitude has taken a blow largely because of a horrible cold. My girlfriend returned from a trip to London recently and gave me, along with Belgian chocolate, European germs — germs that provided a nose so clogged I couldn’t taste food, headaches that made me feel my heartbeat in my temples, and a cough that reached into the depths of my lungs to mingle with wads of phlegm.

Now imagine you’ve just woken up after a night of coughing and nose blowing. You barely heard your alarm because, somehow, your ears are clogged with mucus. The next few hours are spent hacking up the bodily fluids and clearing crusts that have accumulated in your nose, throat, and chest in the hours of you trying to rest. Suddenly, you remember you have to get to work, and the only way there is on your bike.

Any recovery I felt upon waking was immediately negated by my commute. Pedaling slowly left me panting, unable to breathe with the aforementioned mucus blocking my airways; the dry Colorado air finding any lump or dryness in my throat and attacking it with veracity. By the end of my ride, the sleeves of my shirt would be covered in boogers, as my lack of energy decreased the efficacy of my snot rockets — and people wondered why I was grumpy.

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Arriving at work sopping and bedraggled. What I had ahead was hours of ice cream scooping. What I needed was a nap.

During this period, I have also added significant time to my sleep schedule, made up of little chunks throughout the day. Not only has the time increased, but so has the urgency. Going to bed is no longer a choice. I can’t decide to stay up later to see what horrors the internet has to offer. Within moments of getting home and off my bike each evening, I’m flopped on my bed, fully clothed, barely having remembered to brush my teeth. Coming home by car, there is energy to watch a TV show, read a book, and attempt to cook a palatable meal. No more. I may want to keep up on characters in my shows, find out what is wrong with Captain Ahab, or have something other than rice and beans, but everything needs to be done quickly because the time between walking in the door and shaking the walls with snores is minimal.

In the money saved from not having a car, there are other non-monetary expenses, that make it a difficult transition. But, the positives of bike commuting far outweigh the negatives, and I’ll talk about them more in the future. For now, I just needed to complain, and I appreciate you indulging me.

Becca Heaton

Becca Heaton is the program coordinator and editor for BikeLife Cities' city magazines and website. An avid cyclist, Becca is "embarrassed" to share that she has 5 different bikes... and she rides them all!

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